NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kawhi Leonard, Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 2, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kawhi Leonard, Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan

0 of 3

    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Rumors are flying around the NBA, and free agency hasn't even started yet. In fact, teams haven't even been allowed to begin negotiations with players, and there's already been tons of speculation about who will be going where this offseason.

    Things are only going to heat up on Monday, especially once 6 p.m. ET arrives. That's when the NBA's 30 teams can start to negotiate with free agents. And while signings can't be made official until Friday at 12:01 p.m. ET, there will be plenty of deals already in place by that point.

    Some big names will be on the free-agent market. If many of them decide to switch teams, it could greatly impact the landscape of the league ahead of the 2021-22 season.

    Here's some of the latest free-agent buzz from around the NBA.

Could Leonard Leave Clippers and Sign with Another Team?

1 of 3

    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Kawhi Leonard will be declining his $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season and becoming an unrestricted free agent, according to multiple reporters, including Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. That shouldn't be a surprise. Leonard has publicly said he could do that, even if he wants to return to the Los Angeles Clippers, in order to get a bigger deal.

    Now, Leonard is officially heading back to the free-agent market. And while it seems likely he'll be staying put in Los Angeles, it's not 100 percent at this point, per Haynes.

    "It looks like he is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources informed me that he will listen to other teams," Haynes said during an appearance on NBA TV. "I don't expect this to be a Day 1 signing, I don't expect this to be hashed out Day 1."

    However, Haynes added that he also doesn't expect it to be a situation that isn't resolved within four or five days. So we should know pretty soon if Leonard plans on making the surprising decision to not return to the Clippers.

    Even though Leonard is recovering from a partial right ACL tear, there will surely be teams interested in the 30-year-old forward if he decides he wants to leave Los Angeles.

Ball Likely to Be Heading to Chicago?

2 of 3

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    After beginning his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and spending the past two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, Lonzo Ball may be on the move again soon. And this time, the oldest Ball brother could be taking his talents to the Windy City.

    Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer recently reported that there's "mutual interest" between Ball and the Chicago Bulls, who could be looking to sign the 23-year-old point guard to a four-year, $80 million deal. However, Ball is a restricted free agent, meaning the Pelicans can match any offer sheet unless they renounce him.

    Haynes recently said on NBA TV that unless there's a major "hiccup," Ball and the Bulls are likely to work out a deal (h/t Mark Schanowski of ABC 7 Chicago). And the Pelicans could end up being OK with that as they're trying to bring in free-agent point guard Kyle Lowry, per Haynes.

    Ball is continuing to improve his game. This past season, he set career bests in points per game (14.6), field-goal percentage (41.4), three-point percentage (37.8) and free-throw percentage (78.1) in 55 games for the Pelicans. So he could potentially bring an offensive boost to the Bulls' lineup next season.

Will DeRozan Reunite with Lowry in Miami?

3 of 3

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Lowry and DeMar DeRozan spent six seasons as Toronto Raptors teammates from 2012-18. While Lowry stayed in Toronto after that, DeRozan played for the San Antonio Spurs the past three seasons. Now, both guards are unrestricted free agents this offseason.

    Perhaps the two could soon become teammates again, only this time with a different team. According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Miami Heat have been "exploring pathways" to acquiring DeRozan to go along with their "increasingly promising pursuit" of Lowry.

    There have been reports of numerous other teams having interest in Lowry and DeRozan, but it could be enticing for the two to join together with the Heat, who already have a strong core with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. It's known that Lowry and Butler are close friends, so that could be another appealing part of this scenario for Lowry.

    Miami accepted Goran Dragic's $19.4 million player option on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, but that may have been so it could send him to Toronto in a sign-and-trade deal for Lowry.

    If the Heat enter the 2021-22 campaign with Lowry and DeRozan in their backcourt, they're likely going to be among the top contenders in the Eastern Conference as they look to reach the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons.